Witchmaster - Antichristus Ex Utero - (8/10)
Published on October 30, 2014
Having recently dusted off my copy of Romper Stomper, a 1992 Australian film chronicling the exploits of a group of Aussie neo-Nazis led by a young (and very volatile) Russell Crowe, the name Witchmaster kept flashing through my mind. See, in the film there’s this extended (and gloriously over-the-top) fight scene between said skinheads and a bunch of Vietnamese immigrants where heads are smashed with baseball bats, people are thrown through windows and one guy is even set on fire. Held in rapt awe by the madness unfolding on the screen I couldn’t help but think that Witchmaster would’ve been a perfect addition to the film’s soundtrack, seeing as how their spectacularly belligerent blend of black, death and thrash metal is nothing but a pure sonic celebration of violence.
The black/thrash scene is infested by all manner of clones, hybrids, rip-offs and bastard children and somewhere in there you get the real fuckin’ deal – a band that doesn’t necessarily have to be the most original or an originator of some sort, but a band that simply knows how to mesh all kinds of nasty heaviness together into a fire-breathing, vertebrae-breaking beast that has riffs coming out the wazoo. Poland’s Witchmaster, which has been together in one form or another since 1996, is one such beast. In case you need any additional incentive to check them out, they also feature in their ranks current and former members of Vader, Azarath and Behemoth, chief among them the latter’s skin-basher, Inferno, which will no doubt help guide extra eyes and ears their way. It has to be said, though, that their sound isn’t anywhere near as clinical and focused as that of the abovementioned bands, as they deliberately opt for a more whiskey-soaked, rough ‘n’ tumble aesthetic more in the vein of Norwegian black/thrash overlords Aura Noir (and perhaps an infinitely more fucked up Toxic Holocaust). Good, friendly, violent fun all around!
Antichristus Ex Utero sees of the more overt crust/punk undertones that permeated their last album (2009’s Trücizna) scaled back to allow a more old school speed metal vibe to take hold, with some tracks even taking detours into off-kilter rock ‘n’ roll territory (see “Caricature of Humanity”). This provides welcome reprieve from some of the more savage moments like “Black Goat Sacrifice,” but the band is undoubtedly most effective when they simply let loose in classic Aura Noir fashion (e.g. the excellently titled “Fire Starts From the Mouth” and “Attack and Release”). Yeah, it’s as anti-intellectual as extreme metal gets but sometimes you simply need riffs more than rumination, if you know what I mean. Speaking of which, the riff attack gets quite epic on “She Said Red,” which has that same slow-building brooding feeling that made an album like Deströyer 666’s Unchain the Wolves such a timeless classic. It’s archaic as hell (and more than a little derivative) but ultimately it’s big ol’ barrel of fun, and you can’t really ask for much more from a band like this.